There are so many dangers today, which makes it easy to put a fence around our children, keeping them away from all of the "bad things" in life. But, by doing so, you're actually hurting your children. At some point, they are going to have to face these dangers, and if they aren't properly equipped with how to face them, they are in for a tough road ahead.
Parenting Out of FearRaising kids today is scary. Our world has become a scary place. It's normal to want to protect our children from these dangers, but by doing so, we can actually be sabotaging their very success as they enter the stage of independence.
For example, social media. There are so many dangers associated with social media, it's easy to say your children can't use social media sites. But, social media isn't going anywhere and it largely impacts how people look for jobs, maintain relationships and network for opportunities. The key is to teach them social media safety so they learn how to responsibly use the sites, which won't happen if you're not letting them learn how.
The same is true with going places without you. You won't be able to hold your children's' hands in college. You can't keep your children wrapped in bubble wrap. You have to teach them how to look our for their own safety so they have a chance at surviving as teens and as they enter the adult world. They will never learn to cross the street if you don't teach them how to look both ways.
I'll admit, I'm guilty of being an overprotective parent, but I also believe in equipping my children with the skills they need to be safe and independent. It's a fine line to walk and it can be difficult to tell if you're helping or hindering your children based on your own parenting fears.
So, how do you know if you're parenting out of fear? Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
Am I Overprotective?
Today's headlines and health scares are enough to make any parent want to be overprotective. I know it makes me want to lock my kids up so they are safe. But, eventually they have to head out into the world. If you keep your children locked up, once they do enter the world, they are in for a HUGE shock.
You can't let your own paranoia and personal control impact your children's ability to succeed. The key is to teach your children how to stay protected, how to use their judgement, and how to use their own intelligence to stay safe. I'm not saying to throw them out the door and let them fend for their selves. You need to educate and supervise to allow your child to learn (yes, they will make mistakes) until you are able to trust your child and their judgment. This will never happen if your children don't get to experience life.
Am I Always Saying "No?"
When a child asks a question to do something, is your default answer always "no?" If so, you need to stop to think before you answer. What is the reason behind saying no? Is it because you're scared? Maybe you don't want to deal with it? Or, maybe you don't think your child can handle it? All of this may be true to a certain extent, but if your answer is always no, how will they ever learn?
You need to be able to compromise. If it isn't safe or if your child can't handle it, use it as an opportunity to teach your children so you become more comfortable saying "yes." If you keep saying "no," even if there is a reason behind it, eventually your children are going to end up doing it anyway. It's better to teach them what they need to know so they don't end up making a serious mistake.
Am I Sheltering My Kids?
Our children face so much more than we did as kids. It's easy and natural to want to protect your kids from it. Our children are bombarded every day with negativity at school, from the media, peers, and every other walk of life. No parent wants to see their child hurt, but you can't protect them from it forever.
Your children need to be exposed to the negativity in the world so they can learn to see the good. They need to learn how to handle that negativity to make good choices in life. I'm not saying to start allowing your children to run the streets rampant, but you can't protect them from everything. You have to let in some of the bad so they can fully appreciate the good.
Stop Ruining Your KidsAs parents, I think it's only natural to have a bit of each of these aspects in our parenting to a certain extent. But, if you're answering "yes" without a little wiggle room to each of these questions, you need to look at why you are parenting out of fear and what your kids are gaining from your fear. Are they learning any thing or are you pushing your own fears onto them?
Yes, you have many legitimate reasons to fear, but you can't let your own fears hold your kids back. You can't hold their hand forever. They can't depend on you to keep them safe forever. At some point they are going to enter the world. If your children walked out the door right now and could not return home, are you confident that you've properly prepared them for what they are going to face?
You are a parent to teach and love your children, to nurture them and help them grow to be good people in life. How can they accomplish this, if they are confined by your own fears?